Looking Beyond Our Blood Relatives

William Sheradin's tombstoneSo many people who begin working on their family history are only concerned with their immediate ancestors.  They are concerned with the story of how “they” came into being.  Often times, brothers and sisters, even other spouses of our ancestors are over-looked because they are not blood relatives and therefore they did not have an impact on who we are today.

I’m not one that believes in this way of thinking.  I believe that all of the interactions that we have in our lives play a role in shaping who we are as a person.  I can’t imagine that this was any different in the lives of our ancestors.  One example of this in my own family history, is my second great grandmother’s first husband, William Sheradin.

I don’t know much about William Sheradin other than he was born in 1838 and married Annette Ameilia Willoughby on September 2, 1858.  Sometime in 1858, William and Annette had a son, Alfred.  William Sheradin died on March 6, 1862 and his son Alfred died on July 3, 1863.  Annette married Oliver Brown on January 14, 1866 and was the mother of Jessie Brown, my great grandmother.

What role did William Sheradin play in Jessie Brown’s life?  Especially since he was dead before Jessie was even born.  It turns out that William Sheradin purchased about fifteen acres of land for $550 on November 17, 1860.  This piece of land in Tod Township, Crawford County, Ohio is where he and Annette made their home.  Upon his death, according to William’s Last Will and Testament (see transcript below), the land was to go to his wife and her heirs, including their son Alfred.  As I mentioned earlier, Alfred died about a year after his father.

So what the heck does this have to do with Jessie Brown?  Jessie, as Annette’s daughter, was one of her heirs and therefore upon the death of Annette and Oliver Brown, the property went to Jessie.  Upon the death of Oliver Brown, Jessie was assigned a guardian, Charles Rupp.  In late 1877, William C. Brown, Jessie’s Uncle, petitioned the Court to sell the fifteen acres in order that the funds may be used for Jessie’s care.   On February 13, 1878, the fifteen acres that eighteen years earlier had been purchased by William Sheradin were sold for $1,870.

Looking at the family tree, it would appear that William Sheradin played absolutely no role in the life of Jessie Brown.  However, when you actually begin to look at the records, you start to see that if it wasn’t for William Sheradin, Jessie would not have had any assets to sell to help her out when she was left an orphan at the age of eight.  While William Sheradin may not be a blood relative of mine, he clearly had a huge impact on the life of my great-grandmother and for that, I am thankful!

Had I not read William Sheradin’s Will, I would have never made the connection between the fifteen acres of land that was sold in 1878.  I had searched and searched to find a piece of real estate in Oliver Brown’s name, but came up empty handed.  It wasn’t until I read William Sheradin’s Will and examined the Deed Records that I realized this piece of property was passed down to Jessie Brown from a man that she never knew.

Transcript of William Sheradin’s Will:

In the matter of William Sheradin’s Will

Be it remembered that on the 22nd day of April 1862, there was filed in the office of the Judge of the Probate Court of Crawford County Ohio a certain will of William Sheradin late of said County deceased in the words and figures following to wit:

“In the name of God Amen” I, William Sheradin of Crawford County, in the State of Ohio, being of sound and disposing mind, memory, and understanding, do make and publish this my last will and testament, in manner and form following, that is to say:  After my debts and funeral expenses are paid, I give and bequeath unto my son Alfred Sheradin, all my money or all that may be due me in any manner either by note book account, or otherwise, together with my watch and Bureau to him and his heirs and assigns.  I give and bequeath to my dear wife Annette A. Sheradin all of the rest and remainder of my personal property, to her and her heirs and assigns.  I give and devise unto my dear wife Annette A. Sheradin, all of my real estate, so long as she may remain unmarried:  on the Wm Sheradin's tombstonemarriage of my wife, I order and direct that said real estate be sold and proceeds thereof be equally divided between my wife Annette A. Sheradin and my son Alfred Sheradin, share and share alike, to them and their heirs and assigns.  I wish no appraisement (sic) of the personal property.  In testimony where of I have here unto set my hand and affixed my seal this twenty-fifth day of February in the year eighteen hundred and sixty-two.

William Sheradin {SEAL}

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